Consumer Reports Finds Little Insight in Honda's Latest Hybrid

Richard Chen
by Richard Chen

The August issue of Consumer Reports has started to arrive in subscribers’ mailboxes and features a review of the 2010 Honda Insight Hybrid. Guess what. They concurred with Michael Karesh and panned it, citing the lack of oomph, room, and refinement. CR didn’t like the original 2-seat Insight, either, citing the lack of oomph, room, and refinement, but at least it got 65+ mpg.

The 5-door Insight got 38 mpg on CR‘s test loop, little better than the Civic Hybrid’s 37 mpg and behind the outgoing base Prius (44 mpg) and Prius Touring (42 mpg). The points final tally of 54/100 final score was hardly Fit and dangerously close to the Dodge Caliber 48/100, a car unanimously felt to need a stimulus package. By comparison, the larger Civic Hybrid scored 72/100, the base outgoing (2009) Prius 68/100, and the Prius Touring 80/100 points. (Talk about grading on a curve: the 14 points gained by the Prius Touring are due to slightly wider/stickier tires, stiffer suspension, and a bigger rear spoiler.) US Insight sales have been disappointing and Honda recently scaled back their sales projections. As Consumer Reports is influential with the non-enthusiast car crowd, one wonders if Honda had advance notice of CR‘s review.

Richard Chen
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  • Ceipower Ceipower on Jun 27, 2009

    Honda could do beter.In place of new and better tech , the Insights selling point is "Hey , it's cheaper than a Prius." In the days when Mr. Honda was still at the helm this would have never happened. Honda may not be the next GM , but the people who are running Honda seem content to take Honda in that direction. Marketing seems to have a greater say than engineering, and sadly the marketing department has a lousy record for producing hits. I've seen it creep into all Honda products over the last decade.They want to be precieved as the Honda of old , but the products can no longer back that up.At what point does it all hit the fan?

  • Gary Numan Gary Numan on Jun 27, 2009

    SherbornSean I completely agree. I have not yet driven the new Insight but have sat in one and feel that it should be a Civic and have the Civic powertrain along with some real carpet and the sunroof option. I like the size and hatchback functionality and dare I say it.....I like the shape and design of it. Put some cool wheels and meatier tires on it and they'd have of course price it right. We had a 2002 Civic EX sedan / auto and it returned impressive mpg, typically between 36 and 41 on road trips. Why couldn't a standard engine format placed into the new Insight acquire about the same?

  • Poohbah Poohbah on Jun 27, 2009

    I have a 2002 Civic 5-speed and can hit 40+ MPG when driven lightly (like the hybrid drivers do). The Insight seems to be pointless IMO.

  • Jaje Jaje on Jun 30, 2009

    IIRC the Insights interior including seat fabric is from plant and other sustainable resources. Whereas the Prius and the normal cars interiors and seating surfaces from petroleum based sources and the leather from animal skins. It maybe not the same texture they love but the car is more than just a car with a hybrid drivetrain thrown in. Honda's hybrid drivetrain is much cheaper to build (yet it doesn't deliver the mileage) so they need to cut the price even further to properly compete with the Prius. Toyota has this market cornered and it seems Honda has lost its Mojo and can't seem to find it.